Clovis addresses need for new parks, still uncertain on locations

Clovis is home to a number of beautiful parks, many of which connect to its stellar trail system, but as the community continues to expand in size and population, more open space is needed, and as the recent Clovis Citizen Survey makes clear, more parks are definitely wanted.

At a recent meeting, Dan Seder, a consultant with Green Play, discussed the needs and wants of the Clovis community with the city council in his presentation of the Clovis Master Parks Plan.

By 2021, he said, the population in Clovis is expected to grow to 111,000, and if trends continue, the Clovis populace will continue to swell over the next 10, 15 and 20 years. Along with this overall growth, certain age groups, he said, will comprise more than a fair share of the new population—25 to 44-year-olds and 65 to 84-year-olds are expected to have the most growth. Keeping the aging population in mind, Seder said the council should consider implementing more benches, lighting and security, and more activities for the 25 to 44 group, like sports fields.

To get more specific, Seder examined the results of recent citizen surveys and meetings. The priorities residents listed included maintaining the city’s current level of standard in its parks, increased connectivity with the trail, developing a splash park and the long-awaited creation of a permanent dog park.

“Residents want improved conditions and maintenance of current facilities, they view parks and trails as very important and they are highly valued and heavily used,” Seder summarized. “Residents do want to see an increase in connectivity, safety and security, lighting along the trail system and more lighting in the parks in general, and improved recreation programs and classes. Overall the community needs are being met but finding programs for those younger families in your community is a large need as are dedicated dog parks … One of the questions on the survey asked residents to identify their first, second and third priorities and top three are increase connectivity to trails and pathways, improve and renovate existing facilities, and develop new parks.”

Currently there are 81 parks in Clovis that encompass 173 acres. In the future, Clovis plans to increase its open space to 300 acres, which will include additional miles of the trail as well as new parks. Developing new parks in developing areas like Loma Vista and Heritage Grove will of course aid in that goal, but Seder said the city also needs to figure out what to do in the landlocked southwest part of town to enhance amenities and add more open space in a creative way.

While the council agreed with the priorities addressed by Seder and citizens, they said they wished for more details in the master plan, namely specific areas where a park is recommended, some creative infill ideas, and the like.

“When we got the Trails Master Plan, we saw the trails and where they are going to go and we saw nice photos and it was very simple,” Councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua said. “This seemed like an analysis of data, but I wanted to see, for example, an area and said this area needs a park and actually drew where the park could go and how we’re going to improve recreation, which was addressed but not really assessed. I really loved what was presented to us for the trails and I was hoping to see something with parks mapped out and pictures of the concept. This is just so broad.”

Councilmember Jose Flores said he would specifically like to see some information addressing what Clovis may or may not do in regards to the Dry Creek basin—a large open space that could potentially be brought into the city’s sphere of influence within the next 10 years. Flores said that area could potentially be perfect for a regional park and he wants to hear thoughts from staff about whether Clovis should take on the responsibility of providing the next regional park.

“We don’t have to do that now but looking ahead in 10 years we should have some plan for what we want to do then in regards to regional parks especially when we have a population of 120,000 in Clovis and with all the other people living in this region,” Flores said. “Woodward Park and Lost Lake and the other regional parks will all be overcrowded by then, actually they are crowded now, so what are we doing and are we the agency to do that? Sometime during the life of this plan, toward the end, we should start making some decisions about that.”

Mayor Bob Whalen said overall the council was a bit underwhelmed by the presentation, but that didn’t prevent the council from moving forward and adopting the plan with requests for more detail in the future.

“We have a high expectation in the City of Clovis when it comes to parks and recreation,” Whalen said. “We have this mantra: “the Clovis way of life” which to a lot of people means different things but to many means an opportunity to engage in community, and the way a lot of that is done is through our parks and trails. We maybe had a higher expectation of what we were going to see in this master plan and the fact that it was limited to being a policy document is why we were underwhelmed.

“But, we want greater detail: how are we going to meet the underserved communities and what about the future of a regional park and is that something viable to the City of Clovis? I understand some of those things will be addressed in our General Plan but when we go from General to Parks Master Plan, I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect greater detail in the Parks Master Plan.”